Reviving Unfamiliarity-The Case of Public Resistance to the Establishment of the Danish-German Euroregion

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    In common sense perceptions of lay people, borders are perceived as essentialist, as things that demarcate inhabitants in one state from those in another, but being defined as state borders is too narrow a perspective on the spatial divisions of people. In sociological theory, borders are considered as social constructions. Borders are socially constructed; however, the kinds of constructions take on different forms. State borders?or political borders?initiate and work in a complex set of relations with other types of borders such as cultural, linguistic and economical. Whilst borders in political theory are considered the outcome of institutional processes, often as a consequence of political power struggles, for example, wars, borders are addressed differently in other theoretical approaches. A dominant paradigm in border studies perceives borders as social constructions created through both institutional practices and everyday social interaction. The social construction of borders takes place in the specific daily life interaction among people. The article focuses on two central concepts in its analytical strategy. First, the concept of unfamiliarity is introduced as a concept that addresses the mental categorizations that are created in interactions across borders. Second, the concept of borderwork by Rumford is introduced as an analytic tool in order to identify processes of border constructions in individuals daily interaction. The main aim of the article is to establish the relationship between borderwork and unfamiliarity. The analytical frame has been adapted to the specific case of introducing a Euroregion in the DanishGerman border region, and it is demonstrated how interplay between unfamiliarity and borderwork may contribute to explain the resistance towards formal cross-border interaction. Furthermore, the case analysis draws attention towards the subtle mechanisms that contribute to maintaining borders as barriers in a formally debordered Europe.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Planning Studies
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)58-74
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2013



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